Captain Babar Azam smashed a magnificent century while pace bowler Haris Rauf took four wickets as Pakistan beat New Zealand by 38 runs in the second T20I in Lahore on Saturday.
Azam, who fell for just nine in his 100th T20I on Friday, compensated with a brisk 58-ball 101* to lift Pakistan to a solid 192-4 in their 20 overs.
Rauf, who took a career-best 4-18 in Pakistan’s 88-run win in the series opener, finished with 4-27 to restrict New Zealand to 154-7.
Pakistan now lead the five-match series 2-0 with the last three matches in Lahore (17 April) and Rawalpindi (20 and 24 April).
“I am very happy to perform in this match,” said Azam, who is now the joint most successful T20I captain with 42 wins, alongside England’s Eoin Morgan and Afghanistan’s Asghar Afghan.
“I had two good partnerships and then our bowling was once again excellent. We have got experienced and exciting young bowlers who gave us back-to-back wins.”
Mark Chapman scored a battling 65* for New Zealand featuring four fours and as many sixes, but lost partners at regular intervals after the tourists made a decent start.
Chad Bowes (26) and captain Tom Latham (19) put on 44 for the first wicket in 6.2 overs, but as the asking rate soared New Zealand’s chase lost steam.
“We have been there or thereabouts but weren’t able to finish the innings off, both with the ball and bat,” said Latham. “When Babar plays like that, you tip your hat off.”
Azam was the mainstay of the Pakistan innings after he won the toss and chose to bat.
He smashed a six and two fours in the last over to reach his third T20I century, becoming only the sixth batsman to do so in the shortest format at international level.
The build-up, the execution, the celebration 👏
Everything to adore about the final over as we witnessed a @babarazam258 special 🌟#PAKvNZ | #CricketMubarak pic.twitter.com/gilvozw9Zj
— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) April 15, 2023
Azam put on 99 for the opening wicket with Mohammad Rizwan, who scored 50 off 34 balls.
Azam, whose knock included 11 fours and three sixes, then added 87 for the fifth wicket with Iftikhar Ahmed, who finished 33* as the home team added 65 runs in the last five overs.
After removing Rizwan in the 11th over, New Zealand slowed Pakistan’s charge as Matt Henry then dismissed Fakhar Zaman for a duck and finished with 2-29.
Saim Ayub also fell without scoring and Imad Wasim was out for two as Pakistan lost four wickets for just six runs in the space of 14 balls.
Azam started the 20th over on 84 and looked like he would end short of a century, but he took the attack to James Neesham – dispatching the last ball over cover for a four to reach his ninth hundred in all T20 cricket.
Only Chris Gayle of the West Indies has hit more hundreds in the format with 22, while India’s Rohit Sharma leads the T20I chart with four tons.
© Agence France-Presse